THE Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for North Wales (pictured above) endorses the view that the current INEOS injunctions against the anti-fracking movement represent a threat to civil liberties.
Earlier this morning (28 November) Arfon Jones, who was elected in 2016 to represent the North Wales Police area, retweeted our report ‘The INEOS injunctions: Undermining the right to protest’ (26 November) with the words: “Please read if you’re interested in the erosion of our civil rights by the state”.
Crime commissioner challenge
wideopenroads now challenges the 41 other PCCs to read our article and endorse it similarly. We will report back on the response we get.
Learn about the #wedemandtherights campaign in pursuit of restoring our civil liberty to protest meaningfully; and how you can take part. The campaign has the support of Mike Amesbury, Labour MP for Weaver Vale in Cheshire, Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, and anti-fracking campaigner Joe Boyd, as well as Green Party MEP Keith Taylor.
Jones, a former police inspector who retired in 2008 after 30 years’ service, served in Regional Crime Intelligence in Manchester and as Head of Child Protection for North Wales Police; he was also a borough councillor in Wrexham until May this year.
According to his Facebook profile his favourite quote is “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men/women to do nothing.”
A total of 42 directly-elected PCCs were created in 2012 to replace the old police authorities, which were scrapped on account of their lack of independence from the police forces they were intended to scrutinise. Jones, representing the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, was elected to his PCC post in the second round of ballotting in the 2016 elections, defeating a Labour Party candidate on a 41.6% turnout.
His election platform pledged “better policing of protests” on the grounds that “policing of such events does not always seem to be as impartial or proportional as it should be”. He also claimed that “a lot of money is wasted by arresting the most vulnerable in society”.
In 2012, Mr Jones, then a borough councillor, hit the national headlines after being ordered by the council’s chief executive not to send out live tweets during a meeting of Wrexham council’s executive board meeting that was discussing school bus fares at the time.
Earlier this year Mr Jones backed his force’s decision, via Twitter, to withdraw reinforcements to Lancashire Police at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. “No more
@NWPolice officers will be going to facilitate Cuadrilla’s business in Lancs. Let them pay for their own security,” he wrote on July 22. He added at the time: “The decision [to withdraw the reinforcements] was an operational one over which I have no say but I did make feelings known and may have influenced.”
Anti-fracking campaigner Joe Boyd from Liverpool, one of two volunteer Defendants who came forward to challenge the INEOS injunctions (the other being Joe Corré, son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood) immediately backed our campaign. He said:
“It’s great to hear Mr Jones has endorsed your article, which goes to the heart of the biggest troubles of our times. Police forces should be supporting the people in these struggles, the evidence is overwhelming against the fracking industry.”
“I will back any campaign but the police can’t be trusted. High-level gold commander seminars are dictating and putting community bobbies in a terrible situation. Police officers generally feel the same way as campaigners.
“Everyone is being put in a situation that they don’t want to be in. The shale industry, backed by the Tories, is forcing police officers into a situation they don’t want to be in.
“All Police and Crime Commissioners should push harder to protect their local constituents and forces. Together they can protect their communities from an oppressive industry and mend the fragmentation that will only continue to widen if the industry is allowed to keep on invading local democracy.”
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List of Police and Crime Commissioners for England and Wales, with contact details (excluding Greater Manchester and London)